“Il Boemo”: portrait of Josef Myslivecek, musician defector to the court of the King of Naples

Caterina Gabrielli (Barbara Ronchi) and Josef Myslivecek (Vojtech Dyk), in


In the cinema, the biographical genre, very popular with the public, is also the refuge of academicism of all kinds, the lives of great men unfolding there according to a very solemn mythology of predestination. The thing would gain in interest to lean on obscure lives, of those which did not completely meet their destiny, or then which are superbly passed by. Because then the story makes itself felt better, no longer as an official flowing narrative, but as opaque resistance, a capricious force playing with human wills and disposing of beings as it pleases.

This is the case with the seventh feature film by Czech director Petr Vaclav, dedicated to his compatriot Josef Myslivecek, known as “Il Boemo” (“the Gypsy”, in reference to his region of origin), an unknown composer of the 18e century, a contemporary of Mozart (1756-1791), who nevertheless left his mark on the late Italian Baroque. This is not the first time that the 56-year-old filmmaker has mentioned this ignored musician, since he had already devoted a documentary to him, Confessions of a missing personin 2015.

Born in Prague in 1737, the young man, a talented violinist promised by his mill father to a future as a merchant, left his native Bohemia to settle in Italy, then the epicenter of European music, and more precisely in Venice. , in 1764, where he aspired to have his operas performed. After lean years, during which he survives by giving private lessons, “Il Boemo” (Vojtech Dyk) meets a libertine aristocrat (Elena Radonicich), who takes him under his wing – and into his bed. – and introduced him into the circles of power.

Then falls to him an unexpected order from the Theater of Naples, in honor of King Ferdinand IV, for which the beginner must direct the great diva of the time, Caterina Gabrielli (Barbara Ronchi), furious soprano who makes him see all colors. A period of success and love opens for the composer, demanded in all the courts of the Peninsula, without him managing to acquire any position or any social status. He died in 1781, from the consequences of syphilis, in the most complete destitution.

Confrontations and misunderstandings

Il Boemo presents itself as the drama of a man whose name no one is able to pronounce correctly, even less to remember, and therefore doomed to remain unknown to all. Not devoid of talent, Myslivecek owes his rise above all to his pleasant features, as well as to his success with women, with whom he maintains so many romantic and artistic companionships, whose succession gives the story its structure.

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